Walker: Republicans Have Budget Deal in Principle; JFC Co-Chairs Say Details Remain

By John Forester | August 22, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Gov. Scott Walker said today Republicans have reached a deal “in principle” on the state budget that would include a partial repeal of the personal property tax, saying he expects to sign the budget by Sept. 22, when summer ends.

But he also said there are “a few little details” that need to be worked out.

WisPolitics.com reported Friday lawmakers were looking at exempting one category of the personal property tax, with a price tag of $75 million, and putting aside as much cash as possible in case collections softened in the upcoming biennium. Lawmakers also have been discussing combined transportation bonding between the Foxconn bill and the budget of less than $500 million.

JFC Co-chairs Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and John Nygren, R-Marinette, confirmed today that is part of the framework they’ve been discussing. But they cautioned it was not a done deal and details remained to be finalized.

Darling also noted some members of her caucus were continuing to push for a full repeal of the personal property tax. Senate Republicans have proposed doing that and creating a new appropriation to backfill the lost property tax revenue for local governments at a cost of $239 million in the second year of the biennium.

“I’m glad the governor is enthusiastic. But I wouldn’t say there’s a deal cut,” Darling said.

Walker told reporters today at UW Health the budget wouldn’t increase the gas tax or vehicle registration fees, though lawmakers are discussing fees for electric and hybrid vehicle owners. Darling confirmed that was also being discussed.

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Evers to Announce for Governor on Wednesday

By John Forester | August 21, 2017

State schools superintendent Tony Evers will formally announce his gubernatorial run Wednesday, making him the third Democrat to commit to a bid and the first statewide office holder to challenge GOP Gov Scott Walker.

Check out the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news story here.

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Recap of Senate Education Committee Hearing

By John Forester | August 17, 2017

The Senate Committee on Education held a public hearing on Thursday, August 17th on the bills listed below.  The SAA supported three of the bills, testifying on one of them, as noted below.

Assembly Bill 280. Relating to: incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools.  SAA is neutral on the bill.  SAA and WASB worked with the authors to ensure a “soft” requirement that we believe that most if not all districts already meet.

Assembly Bill 71. Relating to: an inventory of pupil data.  SAA took no position on the bill.

Assembly Bill 72. Relating to: responsibilities of state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data.  SAA took no position on the bill.

Senate Bill 105. Relating to: creating a pilot program under which certain school districts are not required to provide a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction.  SAA testified in support of the bill.  The SAA testimony includes some “comments” on the bill.  Check it out.

Senate Bill 253. Relating to: prohibiting aiding and abetting sexual abuse.  The SAA registered in support of this bill.

Senate Bill 299. Relating to:  an initial teaching license based on completion of a Montessori teacher education program. The SAA took no position on this bill.

Senate Bill 301. Relating to: summer school and interim session classes.  The SAA registered in support of this bill.

If you should have any comments/questions regarding the SAA’s positioning on any of these bills, please do not hesitate to call the SAA office.

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Schools Gear Up for New Year Without State Budget Finalized

By John Forester | August 16, 2017

Check out this news story from Molly Beck of the Wisconsin State Journal on how school districts are managing the uncertainty of starting the school year without a new state budget in place.  Numerous district administrators are quoted.

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CPR in Schools Program Seeking Additional Schools for Training, School Kits

By John Forester | August 15, 2017

The CPR in Wisconsin Schools Program, through funding provided by the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program (HWPP), is a joint effort between the Medical College of Wisconsin and Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) #7 in collaboration with the American Heart Association and a number of other Wisconsin-based groups. The program is dedicated to increasing sudden cardiac arrest survival by making sure all Wisconsin students are trained to perform high-quality CPR. The program builds the infrastructure for schools to provide ongoing high-quality, hands-only CPR training and develops best practices for school-based training programs.

We are currently recruiting additional public and private schools to receive educator training, CPR in Schools Training Kits, and assistance with finding local healthcare partners to help with student training.  Educators are invited to attend a training session at a near-by CESA; the training provides an overview of CPR, links to training resources, and ideas for classroom management and setup.

There is no charge to attend the training and some schools will qualify to receive a stipend to cover substitute teacher costs. CPR in Schools kits will be provided at low or no cost to each school, depending on the percentage of students in the school who receive free or reduced costs lunches. The kits include 10 inflatable manikins and a training DVD to ensure that all students physically practice how to perform CPR.  Finally, we will help teachers identify training partners from the local community to be student role models in the classroom and to discuss their real-world experiences with performing CPR.

Once a school joins the program, their teachers will receive quarterly newsletters with updates and lessons learned to improve their future CPR training sessions. Cardiac arrest causes over 6,500 deaths annually in Wisconsin and the likelihood of survival is 10%. When bystanders immediately provide CPR to a victim, survival rates double or triple. This program hopes to improve cardiac arrest survival in Wisconsin by ensuring that everyone who graduates from high school has been trained to provide high-quality CPR.  Training sessions will begin again in the fall and any school that would like to participate should contact Kelli Mincheski at 920-617-5616 or kmincheski@cesa7.org.

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LFB Analysis of Foxconn Bill Raises Questions

By John Forester | August 9, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Dems are demanding Republicans slow down deliberations on the Foxconn bill after a new Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis found the state’s break-even point, at best, would be fiscal year 2042-43.

That’s if the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer creates 13,000 jobs at a planned $10 billion facility. But it would be “well past” 2044-45 before the state reaped more tax revenue than the $3 billion it’s slated to dole out to the company if only 3,000 jobs were created.

The Assembly had been targeting next week for a floor vote, though a committee exec is up in the air with dozens of amendments being considered. Meanwhile, the Senate plans to send the bill to the Joint Finance Committee.

“We need more time to thoroughly vet the specifics of this deal and to ensure more work for Wisconsin contractors, suppliers and small businesses, as well as new good-paying jobs for Wisconsin workers,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.

But Tom Evenson, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, called the incentive package an “excellent investment” for the state with $3 billion in exchange for a $10 billion plant and $10.5 billion in new payroll.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that brings high-tech manufacturing back to America, right here in Wisconsin, and adds 13,000 good paying jobs,” Evenson said, adding the package results in $6.70 of private investment for every $1 of public funds.

See the LFB analysis here.

See Wisconsin State Journal Coverage here.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Coverage here.

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Energy Efficiency Exemption article; Wachs Announces for Governor

By John Forester | August 8, 2017

I was out of the office yesterday but wanted to make sure you all saw the news story on the energy efficiency exemption in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and also the news about Representative Dana Wachs’ announcement that he’s running for governor.  Check them out.

Wach’s Announces for Governor:  Wisconsin State Journal Coverage

Eau Claire Leader Telegram Article

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SAA Testifies on Firearm Education Bill

By John Forester | August 3, 2017

SAA Executive Director John Forester testified today for information only on Assembly Bill 427, relating to comprehensive firearm education for high school pupils.  The testimony was delivered at a public hearing before the Assembly Committee on Education.

At the same hearing, the SAA also registered its support for Assembly Bill 398, relating to summer school and interim session classes.

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Bill Repealing DOT School Bus Rule Signed Into Law

By John Forester | August 3, 2017

Senate Bill 134, which would repeal a Department of Transportation rule prohibiting the purchase for use in school transportation of a school bus previously titled and registered in another state or jurisdiction if the bus is more than five years old, was signed into law by Governor Walker as Act 49.  The bill was authored by Senator LeMahieu and Representative Horlacher.  The SAA supported the bill.

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Fitzgerald, Vos Disagree Over Foxconn Bill Process

By John Forester | August 2, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said it’s “more important” to get the state budget done, while Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he thinks the Foxconn bill should be the priority.

Vos added it would be “ideal” if the budget and Foxconn bills could progress concurrently, but Fitzgerald showed no interest in that approach.

“We’re still focused on: Let’s get the state budget done. Let’s get K-12 their funding numbers. Let’s make sure that everyone knows that we’ve got this under control before we try and jump in with both feet on Foxconn,” Fitzgerald said.

The Juneau Republican said Walker “was great” in responding to questions from GOP senators in today’s caucus.

But he said his caucus wants to wait for a full analysis from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to answer questions that members have. That includes whether any incentives might be paid out this year if construction on the Foxconn facility kicks off. Another question, he said, is how the $3 billion in incentives would spread out throughout the years.

He said he disagreed with Vos’ approach to refer the bill to the Assembly’s Jobs and the Economy Committee instead of placing that bill directly in the Joint Finance Committee, which oversees budget issues. Vos said the bill could still end up at JFC, but made no commitment to send it there.

Fitzgerald said he talked to Sen. Dan Feyen, R-Fond du Lac, who chairs a similar committee in the Senate, about why he thinks why JFC is the “appropriate place for this to be.” The JFC, he said, should hold a public hearing on the bill and an executive session.

Fitzgerald said a JFC meeting isn’t likely until the week of Aug. 21, when it looks the committee might have the “three days they probably need to wrap up the state budget.”

“If they want to also have a public hearing on Foxconn that day … I think I’m open to that, but, you know, it’s more important to get the state budget done,” he said.

Vos, meanwhile, said he’s looking forward to sitting down with the Senate again on the budget, but pointed out the Assembly has already accepted Walker’s latest offer on transportation, a key hurdle in negotiations.

That approach would take $203.5 million Walker had wanted to put toward income tax cuts and instead use the money for a cash investment in road projects. The guv also has proposed only doing additional bonding for transportation if the state received federal money to help cover the costs of borrowing.

With that discussion continuing, Vos said his caucus wants to make sure the Foxconn bill moves.

“For us, the biggest priority is making sure that we have Foxconn moving along because we know that the sooner we’re able to do our due diligence on the legislation, the sooner they’re able to choose a site and hopefully begin construction, start employing people and get money into the pockets of everyday Wisconsinites.”

The Rochester Republican also noted the Foxconn bill would have little impact on the 2017-19 state budget. There is a provision that would set aside $10 million for grants to local units of government to help with their costs, including infrastructure and public safety. The bill also calls for $252.4 million in general obligation supported borrowing for I-94 north-south, though that would be contingent on the state receiving federal aid. If that happened, the state’s payment on the bonds would be $2.9 million in the 2017-19 biennium.

He also held off committing his caucus to the Foxconn bill as drafted, saying Assembly Republicans only went through policy aspects of the bill today and were awaiting a more in-depth look at the financial side.

“I don’t want to prejudge that the bill is perfect just like it’s drafted or that it requires changes,” Vos said. “That’s why we want to have a good, long, thorough process in the Jobs and Economy Committee to see what positive changes need to happen to make this bill the best it can be.”

See Wisconsin State Journal coverage here.

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